Leadership – Electrifying a Team
by Navin V. Nagiah

A man is not going to go all out for a few extra dollars. He is not going to commit a few years of his life, his mind, body and soul to a cause for the sake of money. If you want to obtain 100% commitment from him - a never ending drive and passion for your mission ... you, as a leader should speak to his soul ... stir and electrify his soul!

Only that can give you extraordinary commitment to a mission!!!

Having said the above, while every single word in the above is true ... what is also true is that in real life ... people need money to survive. However, most people like to obfuscate their need for money with a larger than life mission. How many business leaders do you know have said - "It is not about the money!

Some of that is true. Some of that isn't.

These leaders are consciously / unconsciously covering that blasé need for money (at least in some cases) with higher calls / goals. Just like the leaders, followers also have a similar psychological need.

Good Leaders are smart enough to understand that while people need money and work for money; people also have an innate desire (said or unsaid!) for the money making desire to be camouflaged under a more noble goal or mission. In other words, to put it bluntly, people like to be rewarded in their pockets while at the same time you appeal to their minds and hearts. One without the other, and the team is less than effective.

Consider the below historical example:

It is true that, freedom fighters like Gandhi managed to rouse a nation to its feet and humble the then largest empire of the world through sheer strength of the human spirit. It is also true that while these leaders were successful because they managed to speak to the people's hearts and souls and stir them to action; there was also an unwritten and unsaid promise of "better times with freedom".

It was that combination (soul appealing - you deserve to be free along with the materialistic - you will have better lives) that made the struggle extremely effective. Also, part of the frustration in early post-independent India was because the expectation of immediate riches and/or an instantaneous cure for the ills of the time didn't materialize. This is not to trivialize the accomplishment itself (for that matter, the great Gandhi never promised anything materialistic ever!) but just to point out the basic needs of the human body and soul that need to be met for the effective mobilization of a group of people or team.

As a leader, to ensure extraordinary commitment, you need to:

  • Have a compelling, larger than life vision / mission. It is important that his vision / mission appeals / electrifies your team.

  • The mission should have sufficient details to help in complete visualization of the objectives. The "details and planning" is what will begin to make the mission / vision realistic and achievable. Without this, you might as well be selling pipedreams.

  • Clear communication of the first two points above to your team, constantly and continuously. There is nothing like rote repetition - the more the better. Your team has to begin living and breathing your vision and your plan to get there.

  • Recognize them, reward them and appreciate them genuinely. Learn to stoke that fire of emotion ... in order to ensure continued unrelenting commitment.

  • Monetary benefits to the team; this should be done almost like it isn't important (though you know it is!). Very few people like to make it known that they are doing it for the money. While a lot of western business gurus advocate things like giving cash bonuses in "hard cash" in front of the entire group; human psychology indicates that money is something though critical is also very private. Once they have it, most people don't want to dwell on it or talk obsessively about it, at least not at work. Get it done and move on ... don't make a big deal about it!

If you can strike the right balance in the above and execute it perfectly, your team will reach a state of mind where they can never do too much for you as their leader. This is easier said than done. It takes enormous self-discipline and patience to master. Very few people, if any, have perfected this art. It is a learning process that never ends. A lifetime of diligent study and practice can help achieve excellence; perfection would probably still be a challenge!

Mr. Navin V. Nagiah is a senior software executive with over 10 years of marketing, strategy and operational experience in high technology start-ups and pre-IPO private companies. Mr. Nagiah has successfully taken products to market in the US, UK, Hong Kong, China, India and Singapore. Mr. Nagiah lives in San Francisco, CA and can be reached at navin.nagiah@earthlink.net.

Many more articles in Creative Leadership II in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2004 by Navin V. Nagiah. All rights reserved.

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